By Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department
DRAZENOVIC MAKES NHL DEBUT:
The Blues have been bitten in a big way by the ol' injury bug in the last few weeks. The defense corps has been depleted with Roman Polak, Barret Jackman, and Carlo Colaiacovo all on the shelf, and key forwards Brad Winchester, David Perron, and T.J. Oshie are also on the casualty list.
The upside to this rash of injuries, if one could call it that, has beeen that a number of the Blues' prospects and younger veterans are getting a real opportunity to show their stuff. The latest of these is center prospect Nick Drazenovic, shown at left skating for the Peoria Rivermen.
The 6'1, 205-pound Drazenovic was drafted by the Blues in the sixth round, 171st overall, in 2005, and showed a glimpse of what he could do the following season with a 30-goal, 63-point campaign for his howmetown club, Prince George of the WHL. He turned pro with a 16-26-42 scoring line (plus-13, 38 PM) in 69 games in 2007-08, and set a career high in goals last season with 19 in 58 games.
Drazenovic's AHL career has been marked by illnesses (missed 13 games to mono as a riookie) and injury (missed 14 games with a knee injury last season), but he has been healthy this season, and is on pace for 32 goals with the Rivermen this year. Thus far, he's appeared in two games for the Blues, and has no points or PIM and a minus-1 mark to show for a total of 19:19 of NHL ice time.
This is Drazenovic's second callup to the Blues in the last week; he was brought up for the East Coast swing last weekend, but did not dress in New York or Boston.
NEW FEATURE THIS WEEK:
Last time out, we peomised a premiere of two new Prospect Sunday features; due to the early game in New York, and our wish to not step on the Game Day Thread, only one of the new features made its debut last week.
We hope you enjoyed the first look at "River Readings," our ongoing weekly close-up look at the Peoria Rivermen. This week, "The Hot List" arrives on the scene. A weekly look at some of the top prospects available for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, "The Hot List" will also feature news and notes on players that may be flying under everyone else's radar, but not ours here at "Game Time," as well as other draft-related content.
Going forward, the schedule for your new-look Prospect Sunday at "Game Time" is as follows:
11:00 AM -- Game Time Prospect Sunday, with the featured Prospect Of The Week and "Trending Up."
1:00 PM -- "River Readings."
3:00 PM -- Game Time Weekly Blues' Prospect Statistics Review.
5:00 PM -- "The Hot List."
On Sundays where there is an early Blues' game, "The Hot List" may be pre-empted for our popular Game Day Thread. Announcements as necessary on game days.
AFTER THE JUMP...:
After the jump, the Game Time Featured Prospect Of The Week, as well as this week's "Fab Five" of players in the organization who are "Trending Up." Several rookie Rivermen stood out from the crowd this week, and we'll be highlighting them here. Stay tuned...
FEATURED PROSPECT OF THE WEEK:
The Game Time Featured Prospect of the week for Nov. 14, 2010 is goaltender Ben Bishop. The Denver native was raised in St. Louis, and launched his career with the St. Louis AAA Blues in 2003-04, posting a 1.73 GAA, one shutout, and an 8-1-2 record in 11 games.
(LINK here to SB Nation asset file for the above graphic.)
After skating for the AAA Blues, Bishop took his game to the North American League and the Texas Tornado in 2004-05. While there, Big Ben appeared in 45 of the team's 56 games, and won 35 of those starts with a 1.93 GAA, 92.0% save percentage, and five shutouts. His puck-moving skills began to emerge as well, as Bishop posted three assists that year.
In this week's featured video, Bishop demonstrates that he can also do more than just stop pucks. This one goes all the way back to his days with the Texas Tornado in the NAHL...
After backstopping Texas to the NAHL championship, Bishop was drafted by the Blues and began a successful college career at the University of Maine. In three years with the Black Bears, Bishop carved out a place for himself in the record books by placing in the top five all-time at Maine for games played (3rd), minutes played (3rd), saves (2nd), save percnetage (3rd), wins (5th), and goals-against average (4th).
Bishop turned pro after his junior year in 2008, making five starts for Peoria at the end of the 2007-08 season. During the next two years, Bishop has worked his way up to being Peoria's number one goalie, and he has started 11 of the 15 games played by the Rivermen this year.
|Jake ALLEN||Mark CUNDARI||T.J. HENSICK||Anthony NIGRO||Tyler SHATTOCK|
|Peoria (AHL)||Peoria (AHL)||Peoria (AHL)||Peoria (AHL)||Peoria (AHL)|
|** 2 games played this week||** 3 games played this week||** 3 games played this week||** 3 games played this week||** 3 games played this week|
|** 120 mins, 1 GA, 2-0-0||** 2 G, 1 A, plus-2||** 2 G, 2 A, plus-1||** 1 G, 1 A, plus-2||** 1 G, 2 A, plus-4|
|** 0.50 GAA, 98.1% sv pct, SO||** 7 PM, 2 PP, 0 SH, 0 GW||** 0 PM, 1 PP, 0 SH, 0 GW||** 0 PM, 0 PP, 0 SH, 0 GW||** 2 PM, 0 PP, 0 SH, 0 GW|
Nigro and Shattock scored their first goals and points as professionals in last Sunday's 5-1 home win vs. the Rockford ice Hogs. Allen has allowed a grand total of three goals in his first four games played as a pro. Cundari, at a plus-7, is tied with veteran Dave Spina for the best mark on the Rivermen, and Hensick has moved into the team scoring lead with a 5-9-14 scoring line in 12 games played.
Honorable mention for the week goes to 2010 draftee and Colorado College freshman Jaden Schwartz. Schwartz picked up a power-play goal and two assists in a 6-4 win at Air Force on Friday night, and another assist in a 5-1 loss vs. Yale on Saturday for a 1-3-4 scoring line (0 PM, minus-1) in two weekend games.